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Speech by SMS Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee at the Singapore Land Authority Spatial Challenge 2010 Award Ceremony

Posted in Speeches


Principals, Teachers and Students,

Industry sponsors and partners,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1       Good afternoon. I am happy to join you today for this SLA Spatial Challenge 2010. I recall at the Spatial Challenge two years ago, there were many interesting projects done by creative students just like you. Like the participants two years ago, I applaud your innovative spirit. I want to commend the Singapore Authority for making this possible. The SLA is a key influence in helping to manage our land bank. They are the reasons why now in some place like Holland Village and Dempsey Village, you see that SLA is creatively making use of all these properties and State lands that we have.

2       On my way here today, I passed by a number of open spaces that SLA has set aside for community use. Many of these spaces are busy during the evenings and weekends with residents kicking a football, flying kites, walking their dogs or just spending quality time with their friends and families.  I was told that some of these Community Use sites are more popular than others. Question is: what are the unique factors that make the popular sites more appealing to the public?

3       I understand that this is a topic that four teams have addressed at this year’s Spatial Challenge. Using Geographic Information System or GIS for short, the teams have collected data on the characteristics of the sites as well as their uses, and also mapped them for detailed analysis. I am sure the teams will provide us with some insights on how we can make the Community Use sites even more attractive.
  
Spatial Information and GIS usage among the community

4       This is just one of the many uses of GIS for the community. Many of us here use geospatial information daily, some on the internet, and some using smart phones, for example, to locate places such as the nearest sports complex, shopping centres, makan places, etc.  This has become very common, especially in an urban environment where locational information has become more complex and diverse.  Another question is: apart from using GIS for our immediate needs, can there be more areas of use? How can we stretch the parameters? I think the community around us presents lots of opportunities.   The Nature Society of Singapore has used GIS to map out the flora and fauna on our island. The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre has made an interactive map for people to locate opportunities to volunteer their services in Singapore. Both of these are good examples of how GIS can be extended to the larger community. 

5       Two years ago when I was here at the first Spatial Challenge, I asked SLA to make GIS a tool that will better foster an active and better-connected community.  With more user-friendly GIS software and greater familiarity with IT, internet and web technology, local communities can leverage on GIS to advance common interests.  Using GIS and Web 2.0 concept, for example, residents and businesses in a community can transpose data and information on people, food, shops, hawker stalls, wet markets, recreation, childcare facilities, the environment and many others onto a map platform. A community can also map out local historical landmarks that identify an area, from which a heritage trail can be created.

OneMap

6       I am happy to note that, OneMap, which was recently launched, is a platform that facilitates this.  Not just a common map platform for public agencies to publish information and deliver map-based services, OneMap does more, it is open to use by anyone for building innovative geospatial applications – whether you are an individual, a business entity, or a community organisation.

7       Built using Web 2.0 technology, anyone can mash up OneMap and its information and features with their own. They can create geospatial applications using OneMap as a base on their own web portals. So now it is easier and more convenient for communities to create map-based portals using authoritative geospatial information. I would like to encourage all of you here, especially our students, to help your local communities use OneMap for some creative services on the Internet.

8       For example, how about using OneMap to create an application to let town residents choose jogging routes, based on their interests and level of fitness? Or designing a map-based portal to let residents plan their day out in the neighbourhoods, based on their preferences of activities? You can do this as a community service or a school project. I hope that school principals and teachers can support their students in such meaningful ventures. The community in the vicinity of your school will appreciate the creativity and talents of your students. 

9       For our partners in the geospatial industry, OneMap is a platform for you to create value-added services for your clients and customers. SLA is working hard to enrich OneMap with more authoritative and useful public information. They are also willing to take in your suggestions for improving OneMap. I am glad to note that since its launch, OneMap has received 2.5 million page views. Today, it has 32 thematic data layers from public agencies, with more to come. For geospatial entrepreneurs and companies who are here today, the student projects may provide you with inspiration for more products and services. You might find many pots of gold among these projects. Think about them and work with them to refine their ideas, if you find their concepts feasible for commercialisation.  

Participation of Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) 

10     I am very pleased that students from the institutes of higher learning are taking part in Spatial Challenge for the first time. I can feel a higher level of enthusiasm than what I witnessed two years ago! With 36 teams from the pre-University schools, polytechnics and universities joining the competition this year, Spatial Challenge is growing very well.        I heard that a team is developing an application that displays business listings on a map.  Another team is developing a system that enables property agents, buyers and sellers to analyse the property market before performing the transaction. Yet another team, probably responding to the call to “Save Gaia”, is using GIS to create a visual map of rooftops in order to harness their potential for solar energy generation.  By tapping GIS to derive out-of-the-box solutions in addressing issues that concern businesses, the environment and the community.   

Closing

11     In conclusion, I would like to thank the main sponsor ESRI Singapore, other sponsors and our supporting partners, Ministry of Education and stat boards, school principals and teachers for their whole-hearted support. This Spatial Challenge initiative is going strong because of your keen interest and participation. To all student contestants, thank you for taking part. Whether or not you have won this afternoon, I’m sure you know that you’ve already won because you are now captains of GIS. The key is please use enthusiasm, tell your friends the potential about GIS and I’m sure after your exams when you have a bit more time, you can join the young people in the CC and come up with the ideas tapping GIS and OneMap, where you can benefit the people living where you are around the community and together I’m sure we can make GIS work for Singapore.  

12     To the student contestants, thank you for taking part. Whether or not you win a prize this afternoon, every one of you is already a champion in driving the evolution of GIS in Singapore. With its vast potential, your interest and enthusiasm will help bring better solutions for a better Singapore.

13     I wish you all the best. Thank you.         




Last updated on 25 Nov 2012